When a story of mine fails to win a competition or be accepted for publication I try to work out why it wasn’t chosen. Of course, it might just be the wrong story in the wrong place but it’s always worth trying to give a story a makeover.
I say this because I gave one story a 90% makeover and it won a competition. Never mind that the previous draft was poorly written with mixed-up points of view (yes, I admit it, the judges were right).
Today I gave a ‘failed’ story a makeover and injected some of my internet-gathered suspense factors. There are some excellent writers’ web sites with tips tailored to all sorts of fiction inadequacies and I had selected 22 ideas on generating Suspense that I wanted to explore. I felt as if I was holding a bag of mixed sweets and was eager to try some.
The story is memoir and a bit sentimental so I added a measure of cruelty towards the protagonist. She was an interesting and convincing person anyway but she needed an impetus to push her story forward. I made her more feisty and I began to admire her spirit as she fought against her tormentor.
Then I added a subplot that fitted neatly around the existing tale. In addition to increasing suspense for the reader it provided a more satisfying ending, which echoed the scene I had set up at the beginning of the piece.
What I have to do now is shut it in a drawer and wait three weeks till it ferments. Then I’ll take it out and read it just to see if it’s rubbish or actually better than the previous draft. It’s exciting waiting for my own decision on the re-vamp in a few weeks.
And I still have my shopping list of 22 suspense-generating ideas waiting to be adapted and rolled out elsewhere.